On Sunday night, the Dallas Cowboys faced the New York Giants which was hailed as an amazing matchup as to how well both teams stack up against each other. The Cowboys defense held the Giants in check only allowing a field goal and 233 total yards of offense. A touchdown pass to Jason Witten and four Dan Bailey field goals led the Cowboys to the 19-3 victory over the Giants.
Week One Dallas Cowboys Takeaways
The amazing thing about this division rivalry is how well the Giants matched up against the Cowboys. The Giants defense was stellar last season, ranking second in points per game allowed and top ten in yards allowed, forced fumbles, and interceptions. The talented defensive line led by Damon Harrison, Olivier Vernon, and Jason Pierre-Paul creates a unique challenge for the league’s top offensive line. In addition, one of the top cover-corners in the NFL, Janoris Jenkins, has the ability to lock receivers up even at only 5’10”. Other secondary players like Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Landon Collins, and Eli Apple challenge one of the league’s youngest and most talented offenses in this matchup. But enough about the Giants defense.
Quarterback Dak Prescott played a solid game passing for 268 yards and throwing his lone touchdown pass to Witten in the second quarter. Running back Ezekiel Elliott broke 100 yards rushing for the eighth time in his career and second time against the Giants. Dez Bryant was held in check most of the night by Jenkins, but contributions by a hobbled Terrance Williams and Elliott, helped fuel multiple drives. Prescott admittedly didn’t play his best game. He missed Bryant on an easy goal-line slant pattern that resulted in a red-zone field goal and had a few other off-target passes throughout the game. It was encouraging, however, seeing Prescott lead his team at the snap, calling multiple audibles each play which was a rarity in his rookie season.
This young and talented offensive group will continue to thrive and will only be more dangerous as the season progresses. The only worry is the status of Elliott’s six-game suspension currently on hold, but right now it looks very possible he will be able to play the entirety of the season.
Earlier in the day, hours before the 8:30 kickoff for the game, it was reported that the Giants would be surprised if Odell Beckham Jr. played that night due to an ankle injury suffered in the preseason. Beckham took the field pregame and ran multiple routes, but was announced as inactive shortly thereafter. This was obviously good news for the inexperienced Cowboys secondary going into the game.
The real hero of this game was the Cowboys defense. The unit suffocated the Beckham-less Giants offense throughout the game, holding them to only 233 total yards and a field goal. For a defense that was heavily criticized before the season, they were completely dominant in Week One. Defensive end Demarcus Lawrence was highlighted as a player that was going to have to help a team that struggled with pressuring the quarterback last year. Lawrence, my MVP for the game, contributed to Sunday’s defensive performance with two sacks and three tackles for loss. The Cowboys defensive front seven dominated against the Giants struggling run game, only allowing 35 yards. Within this run defense, linebackers Jaylon Smith and Sean Lee played extremely well together leading the team in tackles.
Cornerback Orlando Scandrick exited early after fracturing a bone in his hand, but the younger secondary fared extremely well in the game. The performance was typified by a fourth quarter interception by second-year corner Anthony Brown who made a fantastic play on the ball for the pick.
The Cowboys defense played an extremely well-rounded game and dominated Eli Manning and the Giants offense, in a performance that they will hope to replicate for the rest of the season.